Irish Ryder Cup veteran Darren Clarke is the highest-ranked of ten former Ryder Cup players who will attempt to secure their places in the 150th Anniversary Open Championship at International Final Qualifying — Europe on Monday. They will form part of a field of 96 players, each looking to secure one of 10 Open berths available at Sunningdale Golf Club.
Clarke, currently the world number 163, secured his best Open Championship result to date at Royal Troon in 1997, where he finished runner-up to Justin Leonard. The five-time Ryder Cup player will be attempting to reach his 19th Open, building on a good record at St Andrews which has seen him tie seventh at the Millennium Open, and tie 15th in 2005.
Fellow Irishman Paul McGinley, a veteran of three matches between Europe and the USA, will also take his place in the field. McGinley will be hoping to have earned his 17th Open appearance after completing 18 holes of the New Course and 18 holes of the Old Course at the Berkshire venue.
Also attempting to qualify on Monday is the 2010 European Ryder Cup team Captain, Colin Montgomerie, who has made 20 consecutive Open appearances since making his debut in 1990. The 31-time European Tour winner will be hoping to return to St Andrews five years after finishing runner-up to Tiger Woods in 2005.
The other former Ryder Cup players attempting to book a ticket to St Andrews are Thomas Bjorn, Niclas Fasth, Paul Broadhurst, Peter Baker, David Howell, Ignacio Garrido and Andrew Coltart.
Going in search of their Open Championship debuts are the three players to have won on the European Tour as amateurs: Spain’s Pablo Martin, Danny Lee of New Zealand and Irishman Shane Lowry, all of whom now play professionally.
Martin became the first-ever amateur winner on the European Tour when he captured the 2007 Estoril Open de Portugal. Former US Amateur Champion Lee became the youngest-ever winner when he won the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic at the age of 18. And Lowry claimed victory on home soil when he triumphed at the 2009 Irish Open.
Adding further interest is Matteo Manassero, the 17-year-old Italian who earned the Silver Medal at the 2009 Open Championship and the Silver Cup at the 2010 Masters Tournament for finishing as the highest-placed amateur in both. Manassero is hoping to make his first professional Major Championship appearance at St Andrews in July.
Play will get underway at 6.30am local time on the Old and New courses at Sunningdale. Live scores and stories will be published on www.opengolf.com
throughout the day.